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The Space of Intimacy as The Most Important Islamic Cultural Value in Traditional Iranian Architecture

Mojtaba Valibeigi, Sakine Maroofi, Sara Danay, and Yegane Mokhtari

Published: Jan 6, 2022   https://doi.org/10.12982/CMUJASR.2020.006

ABSTRACT This study aims to carry out a critical reading of individual spaces of traditional Iranian houses. Through recourse to expert opinion, seven traditional houses in Iran have been chosen. A deductive content analysis is used to assess space syntaxes by way of three steps:  preparation, organization, and the final report.  In the preparation step, the individual and family territory in Iranian culture is defined. In the organization phase, territories are classified by reviewing plans, maps, and making visual observations. Finally, conclusions are reached on the situation of privacy and individuality in the houses. It is suggested that family privacy is the main function of traditional Iranian houses. Despite the fact that spaces could be used as personal and individual territories, in practice this is not so, and individualism and individual values have been forgotten. Individuality is not considered as valuable in the sense of one who needs his/her own territory; rather, this is determined in relation with other people.

 

Keywords: Mahram Territories, Personal Spaces, Space Syntax, Territoriality, Traditional Iranian House

INTRODUCTION

Space is a hidden dimension of behavior, and it is through space that we establish relationships with each other (Hall et al., 1968). Researchers have considered several important cases by focusing on human spatial needs connected with the living environment, such as: space security, social relationships, readability, privacy, human dignity and identity (Aiello & Thompson, 1980; Shemesh et al., 2017). Most of these needs can only be acquired through the space syntax of the living environment. The space syntax of a residential place requires spatial, functional, and social hierarchies that cannot be detached from the concept of territory and territoriality (Koohsari et al., 2016; McCormack et al., 2019; Wu et al., 2015). Humans and animals exhibit territorial behavior in different ways. Animals behave territorially in relation to biological principles, which compel them to occupy certain spaces. However, for humans, these kind of actions depend on the norms and cultural criteria of society. Humans usually protect their territory through physical and chemical barriers, or some marked symbols (Guilfoil, 1991; Knoblauch, 2020; Lang, 1994). Every personalization, marking of the environment, or protection against a disturbance, is known as a kind of territorial behavior. The concept of territory isn’t only a spatial matter; rather, it also implies a social event. In fact, a territory can be known as the position and the place of a community in space (Bourdieu, 1996; Low, 2016). Territory has a basic role in human life, and it may help one to organize their environment and acquire personal or collective identities. According to Lang, territory has four characteristics (Lang, 2006, 2014):

  1. Personalization and the marking of place;
  2. Providing certain functions, from physiological to psychological needs;
  3. The right to defend against disturbances;
  4. Ownership, feelings, and human rights to a place.

 

Altman (2020) also provides a general distinction between, on the one hand, territory, and on the other, public territory. Altman claims that “territory must be designed in such a way that people can recognize whether it’s primary, secondary or public one” (p. 500). Firstly, primary territories are owned and used by just one person or a special group, but others will also know that these people are the owners of the territory. The second kind of territory has a less exclusive role. Secondary territories are available to the public, and are also controlled by some constant users. In fact, this concept refers to the half personal and half public space of Alexander, and the interactive space of Layman and Scott (Wells et al., 2016). Public territory is a temporary realm, and almost everyone is free to use these places. This territory is called a free area or public space. Chermayeff and Alexander presented a plan of communication, realm, and privacy, ranging from absolute personal space to that of public spaces (Lawrence, 1984; Rossi, 2017). These space syntaxes consist of the following: (a) personal syntax, which is related to everyone—such as for instance a personal bedroom; (b) familiar syntax, which is related to the primary group, for example, a kind of house; (c) personal syntax of a larger group, which is related to secondary groups, for example, management of an apartment by all of the residents; (d) public syntax of a larger group, including the intersection of this group with the public—such as some spaces where there is limited control; (e) half-public syntax of urban areas, which can control government or special institutions like: banks, post offices, airports, and town halls; and (f) public syntax of urban areas with public ownership and complete accessibility for all people, such as parks and streets.

 

Human territoriality is a set of attitudes and behaviors in and toward given physical areas, and the home is one of its expressions (Raffestin, 2012; Sebba & Churchman, 1983). As Porteous (1976) has pointed out, “at the core of the ethological concept of territoriality lies the place we call home. We personalize and defend this territory, and it, in turn, provides us with security, stimulation, and identity” (p. 84). The home is a basic reference point for the structuring of space and the focus of spatial activity (Narjinari, 2020). Home syntax seeks to explain how spatial configurations express social or cultural meanings. The aim of space syntax research is to develop strategies of description for configuring inhabited spaces in such a way that the underlying social meaning can be enunciated. This, in turn, can allow for the development of secondary theories or practical explanations regarding the effects of spatial configuration on various social or cultural variables. A related theme in space syntax research is to understand configured space itself, particularly its formative process and its social meaning (Dursun, 2012; Karimi, 2018). In brief, space syntax is an attempt to constitute a configurational theory of architecture by generating a theoretical understanding of how people make and use spatial configurations; in other words, it is an attempt to identify how spatial configurations express a social or cultural meaning, and moreover how they generate the interactions in built up environments (Griffiths, 2017; Refaat, 2019; van Nes & Yamu, 2021). One such meaning is mahram space (also known as intimate space or the space of intimacy), which was mainly introduced into Iranian architecture as a result of religious beliefs. In Iranian architecture, mahram space (the space of intimacy) is viewed from the perspective of privacy, and it is considered a kind of family space.

 

Iranian houses were the result of cultural domination, spiritual values and lifestyle. While a house is a resting place, a psychological space, and a shelter for the family and emotional needs of everyone, the concept of territory was so important for the architecture of these houses because they are not considered separate from the outside. Territorialities determined how to organize inside spaces of traditional houses from the outside and public syntax. Imagining a range of private syntaxes with public relations in a place that’s actually private is possible. However, this range in the architecture of Iranian houses focused more on the relation of households with others than the relations within households. In the past, personal values and freedom were neglected in Iran in various ways. Examples of this neglect are seen in Iranian architecture and urban planning, which reflect the culture of this society. We believe that one of the most important aspects of critical readings of traditional architecture derives from the position that human beings and human values occupy in it. And then, it is a question of combining individual values with traditions to create new architectural spaces, ones that have both valuable cultural elements from the past, and also ones that offer more value to human beings. Accordingly, the main purpose of the present study is to investigate private syntaxes in traditional Iranian houses. The study consists of the following parts: firstly, the methodology of the research will be outlined; secondly, the concepts of personal and family syntaxes will be defined, along with their features; next, different spaces of traditional Iranian houses will be identified and analyzed; finally, there will be a critical review of  private syntaxes.

 

The Spaces and Syntaxes of Intimacy

Canter (1997) believed that the meaning of place is derived from the tripartite relationship between activities, concepts, and physical features. Next, in order to develop his theory, he points to four factors which include: functional differences, the aims of a place, the interaction scale, and the design aspects. The functional differences are related to the current activities in a given place. The aims of a place and interaction scale are related to personal, social and cultural aspects, while the designing aspects are related to physical features (Cupers, 2017; Gustafson, 2001; Sebba & Churchman, 1983). Hence, for investigating the syntax in traditional Iranian houses, we should consider the tripartite of activities, concepts and physical context – i.e. which activities take place in the different spaces, and for what purpose.

 

The syntax of intimacy in Islamic sexual jurisprudence is related to the word “mahram.” A mahram is a member of a person's family who is allowed to enter the house and is trustworthy. Thus, mahram territory syntaxes bring intimacy, kinship, and closeness (Aryanti, 2013; Majid et al., 2015). The meaning of intimacy in urban and architectural space is linked to the creation of a place which entails privacy in two respects: the physical and the meaning. Having privacy in physical contexts is more about spatial security, while in conceptual contexts it gives worth and reverence to architectural space. In these ways, a person feels relaxed (Golshan, 2020; Memarian & Sadoughi, 2011). The house forms and its location are determined in accordance with religious beliefs. There are usually some admission rites associated with entering a house. For instance, strangers must have permission to enter. In architecture, intimacy is formed by separating inner space from the outside; it is this separation and acquisition of the space for the purposes of intimacy that makes the home calm and comfortable for a household. Passage, and permission to enter each space is afforded in relation to hierarchies. The houses that focus on intimacy and privacy have some distinct features: narrow passages and often dead ends, no terrace, no window to the outside, decorations inside the building, no façade in outer part of the building, along with high walls and fences for courtyard (Babaei et al., 2012; Habib et al., 2013; Hajian et al., 2020; Karimi & Hosseini, 2012).

 

Personal Syntax

Personal space is a special behavioral environmental concept. Sommer (1969) believed that personal space is a protective, small and invisible territory that makes a bubble between oneself and others (Sommer, 1969, 2002). Personal private space is dynamic and creative. A person may feel annoyed because of the infringement by others in this space. Personal specifications (Personality, emotions, gender, and age), along with physical environmental contexts like social norms and cultural rules, affect personal space (Hecht et al., 2019; Wells et al., 2016).

 

One of the new concepts that has been seen increasingly in environmental psychology studies is privacy. This concept implies that humans need to be alone. Privacy is a process that helps a person to adjust his or her relationships with others, approach introspection, and is found in houses more than anywhere else. Privacy is not equivalent to avoiding or preventing contact with others; rather, it can be grasped as the right to choose spatial and behavioral hierarchy. It is a layer of social and geographical distancing (Gifford, 2007; Steg et al., 2013). Westin (1968) explained privacy in terms of four elements: isolation (being free from the human gaze), proximity (close relationships and being free from the environment), anonymity (being unknown among people), tolerance (using psychological barriers for controlling unknown disturbances) (Roberts & Gregor, 2017).

 

Differences of Personal and Mahram Syntaxes in Islamic Culture

Personal syntax has a spatial character, along with  a physical and material dimension. It does not necessarily mean to be alone or stay away from others; solitude or individuality can be considered as boundaries through which a person can control and monitor interaction with others. However, the syntax of intimacy (mahram) indicates a human characteristic, and has a spiritual and non-physical dimension. By analyzing the contents of personal and mahram syntaxes, their comparison is presented in the following table.

 

Table 1. The comparison of the two concepts of personal space and mahram space

Personal Syntax

Mahram Syntax

It shows the relationship between a person and a special space.

It is considered a relationship between at least two people

One needs this syntax and tries to reach the level of desirability

Efforts are made to protect it from the influence of strangers

It is related to a place with personal criteria, where situations of needs and existence are defined.

It depends on culture and custom, and is defined independently in accordance with time and place.

It is a relative matter and depends on many diversities.

It is less relative, and religious customs and beliefs are its main variables.

It entails less stability

It entails more stability

It entails reverence

It entails intimacy, holiness and worthiness

It is a need of all people

Hierarchy and introversion constitute the main roles in its making.

It creates solitude and loneliness.

It creates kinship and closeness.

It depends on personal and environmental patterns.

It is affected by normal and customary patterns

It is closely related to other concepts like: solitude, calmness, and self-contemplation

It is closely related to: veil, privacy, zeal and chastity

Source: Authors

 

METHODS

This research is carried out using a deductive content analysis method. In content analysis, content can be any kind of document that suggests relations between people. Thus, the paintings on the wall of caves, music, books, articles, handwritings, postcards, films, maps, direct and indirect observations, can all be included as content (Banks, 2018; Flick, 2018). Accordingly, content analysis can be used as one of the methods of qualitative inquiries that explicate and summarize data. Researchers use deductive content analysis methods when they want to study concepts, categories, theories, or any conceptual framework in a new context. In qualitative research, the data collection method aims to reach data saturation (Kyngäs & Kaakinen, 2020). As this research seeks to survey the territoriality and private syntaxes of the traditional Iranian house, deductive content analysis has therefore been used. Through this method, we can try to infer and reveal hidden forms in the documents, maps and observations. The qualitative content analysis method consists of 3 stages: preparation, organization, and conclusion (final report). In the preparation stage, a first attempt is made to provide a theoretical definition of personal and family syntaxes. Also, being based on an interpretive and documentary study, the differences between individual-personal and intimate-family syntaxes in the Iranian cultural system are classified. In the organizational stage, some of the  main documents and texts of traditional Iranian traditional architecture are studied, and then five unstructured interviews with some experts in the field are carried out to reach theoretical saturation. The most important question in the interviews was: “could you please mention some paragons of traditional Iranian houses?” Accordingly, a list of seven houses was made, including: Boroujerdi House, Bekhradi House in Isfahan, Zinat al-Muluk Qawam House, Ansari House in Oromie, Samadian House in Isfahan, Tadayon house in Semnan, and Behashti House in Qazvin (the plan of these houses and a diagram of their spatial relationships is provided and examined in the table which follows this passage). Afterwards, two of these houses were selected for a more detailed analysis. In the third stage, characterizations of traditional Iranian houses, space syntaxes, and personal and intimate territories, are assessed and a critical reading is carried out.

 

Table 2. Selected Traditional Iranian Houses based on expert opinions

 

Accordingly, the objective is to answer the following questions: Do joint features exist in all of these houses for signifying personal syntaxes and syntaxes of intimacy? What is the value, and the configuration of personal syntaxes and syntaxes of intimacy?

 

And in the last stage, a conclusion about privacy and individualism is presented. Which syntax had the greatest value? And which syntaxes and activities have been neglected?

 

RESULTS

Generally speaking, there are five syntaxes in each home: family, individual, welcome, service, and courtyard syntaxes. These syntaxes have special hierarchies in traditional Iranian houses. The traditional architecture of Iranian houses separated houses into two parts: inside and outside. One of the features of traditional houses in most of the cities in Iran is their large area. The important parts of the house in the architecture of Iranian houses are: bench, entrance, vestibule, balcony, courtyard, hall, parlor, and inside (Memarian & Brown, 2006; Memarian & Sadoughi, 2011; Nabavi & Ahmad, 2016).

 

 

Figure 1. The plan of Samadian’s House in Hamadan (Source: Kabookarc.com)

 

In Figure 1 (The plan of Samadian’s house in Hamadan), which is an example of a plan of traditional Iranian architecture, we can understand the true meaning of the concept of mahram territories. As is obvious from the building plan, the structure of Samadian’s House comprises buildings on both sides, and the yard is situated between the buildings. The entrance leads to the yard, and Samadian’s House has three porches. Due to the privacy of the rooms, they do not have a direct entrance from the yard and a corridor is provided for each entrance. In general, the structure of traditional houses is supposed to maintain the residents’ private space.  However, from the past until now, the matter of personal spaces and individuality has been neglected by designers and residents. In the past, large families did not have enough space to dedicate an individual room to each person, and thus family members had to share rooms. For this reason, it was not easy for them to find a place in which to be alone.

 

Figure 2. Boroujerdi’s House in Kashan (Source: Nakhlesabz.ir)

 

In Figure 2 (Boroujerdi’s House), the importance of the issue of mahram territories in traditional Iranian architecture is obvious; the entrance path is separated, the corridor is closed from view—from outside to inside—, a porch has been created, and a frontage with platforms has been made for waiting guests in order to create privacy and mahram space in the central courtyard. Boroujerdi’s house has three entrances: the north entrance is the main one, the west entrance is for religious and other ceremonies, and the south entrance is for special occasions.  Only one opening leads to the courtyard, and a wall without any window or view from outside highlights the significance of this issue. In the architecture of Boroujerdi’s house, the space of the family members (red section) has been designed to be completely separate from the guest’s room (green section), with the courtyard being located in the center. Also, two types of percussion (Figure 3) have been used at the traditional Iranian entrance to differentiate the sound so that the landlord can understand if the guest is a man or a woman.

 

 

Figure 3. Two types of percussion at the traditional Iranian entrance (Source: Authors)

 

It should be noted that from ancient times, and in accordance with their perception of home and family, Iranians have shown a tendency for introverted architecture. This can be witnessed in how different spaces are formed, especially residential ones, in which different Iranian beliefs and issues have been effectuated. One of these is Iranian self-esteem, which has been effective in forming an introverted house. One of the principles that has had a profound effect in the formation of mahram territories in traditional Iranian buildings is the question of introversion. As a principle of Iranian architecture, introversion is a concept that has had any obvious presence due to the various ways in which it has  been realized and seen (Nari Qomi & Momtahen, 2020; Raviz et al., 2015). Introversion itself originated from territorial behavior. The societal factor that causes introversion in Iranian houses is the issue of protecting the inviolable privacy of the family away from the eyes of strangers. Being quiet, with a tendency to inner states, and an avoidance of pretension, are all examples of introversion in Iranian architecture. This appears in the form of winding passages, mud and soil walls, simplistic exteriors and  beautiful, detailed interior design (Razavizadeh, 2020; Safarian & Azar, 2020). Creating mahram spaces induces introversion. Therefore, the character of introversion in traditional Iranian houses, within which the family is afforded a special respect, has been completely compatible with the culture of society.

 

Pirnia (2005) in “Islamic architecture of Iran” has mentioned that “from 6000 years ago, some houses can be seen with introverted design. In the houses that were built later, their residents didn’t feel comfortable. The inside of the house was a place where a woman or a child lived. And it was being built in a way that housewives could work easily and no one could see her” (p.79). In larger houses, private and public spaces are separated deliberately by sections like the entrance, yard, porch, hallway, dooryard (Nejad & Abad, 2016).

 

Mahram Territories from Outside to Inside

The peak of improvement in the principle of introversion in Iran can be seen in the evolution of buildings with central courtyards. Buildings with courtyards in Iran stretch back about eight thousand years. And other buildings, such as especially houses, have taken about six thousand years to acquire a central courtyard (Soleymanpour et al., 2015; Soflaei et al., 2017). As Pirnia (2005) said, “in Iran, they build a garden and a pool in the middle of the house and the rooms and halls wrapped around it like a closed embrace” (p. 186). There was no window or hole in the house, or outside the wall. Thus, it could be seen from the outside, the exterior was designed with arches, gates and congresses.

 

Some features of Iranian introverted social architecture can be mentioned:

  1. Lack of direct visual connection between the interior spaces (private and semi-private) and outside spaces (public spaces),
  2. ­The spaces of the house are shaped with objects like courtyards and porches to which the openings lead on to

 

In Iranian Islamic architecture, not everyone is allowed to disturb the privacy of the family, and the order of entrances to Iranian homes is as follows:

  1. Most of the houses had entrances, and the side platforms in front of the entrances were flat, which provided a suitable space for those who wanted to see the owner but did not need to enter the house;
  2. The connection between the inside and the outside of the house was not as it is today for the visual privacy of the residents of the houses was completely secured and not every passer-by could enter the house. Even in houses with gardens, the yard or garden was large enough that it was impossible to see inside the house;
  3. In the urban setting, the alleys and paths had mazes that had the function of concealing and creating private spaces along the boundary between the private and the public.

 

Figure 4. Distinction between the exterior and interior space of a house in Birjand (Source: Authors)

 

Mahram Territories from Within

Introversion and the Iranian architect’s attraction to courtyards, gardens, porches, and the pergolas that surround the naves and create attractive and familiar environments, have long made them components of Iranian architecture. Privacy is one of the concepts and elements that was effective in the design organization of architecture and urban planning, and the architect has used special strategies to fulfil this need. Spatial order (step-by-step movement from alley or street to the entrance space of the house, and then private spaces) as well as internal and external system operation, are ways to provide good privacy.

 

In the Iranian house, there are three spaces: public, semi-public (semi-private) and private (mahram territories).

 

Public Spaces

Entrance

The entrance spaces themselves are part of the sequence of interconnected and related spaces of the whole house. To enter the building, the door and front of the house are both a barrier to entry and a place to greet semi-familiar guests. This space is used as a waiting area for newcomers, where the residents of the house make some .typical greetings.

 

Next to the entrance, there are platforms called Pakhoreh, in which passers-by sometimes stop for a while to relieve their fatigue in the shadows. Therefore, the location of the two platforms on either side of the entrance is an expression of the value of communicating with neighbors and paying attention to citizenship rights. Individual door knockers for both men and women are derived from the principle of secrecy. Muslim architects believe that the doors of houses in neighborhood units should not be opened facing or close to each other.  

 

Figure 5. Diagram of how to enter Tabatabai’s House (Source: Nakhlesabz.ir)

 

As shown in Figures 5 & 6, in the architecture of traditional houses such as Tabatabai’s House, there is no view from the outside of the house to the inside, and the direct visual connection between the interior spaces and the outside space is completely cut off.

 

Porch and corridor

The Porch or "karbas" is a space that has been designed and built in many types of entrance spaces. This space is often located right after the entrance space and one of its functions is to divide the entrance path into two or more parts. In some public buildings or houses, two or more paths lead into the porch, each of which leads to a specific space, including the interior of the building and the courtyard.

 

In buildings where there was only one way out of the porch, the porch space did not function as a dividing space; rather, it was used as a space for waiting, and as a glorious entrance. Porches have regular geometric shapes, are mostly low in height, and are suitable for the entrance space (Nabavi & Ahmad, 2016).

 

The dedicated dead-end or porch (semi-public space and semi-private space) has the following features (Figure 8):

  • As the doors of the houses open to a space like a platform, porch, or dead end, the feeling of ownership and security is created.
  • Residents can come together and make decisions by contacting and consulting with each other without any interference in their private space.
  • Ordered access avoids crowds and public commuting
  • Semi-private and semi-public spaces that belong to several families have led to increased visiting and familiarity among residents. As a result, residents have a greater awareness of taking care of the common areas.

 

Therefore, the porches have both an architectural function, and are also in harmony with the elegance of social life.

 

 

Figure 6. Toraab house’s Hashti and Masoudieh’s porch for private syntax entrance (Source: Authors)

 

Corridor

The corridor is the simplest part of the entrance space, and its most important function is to provide communication and access between two places. In some types of buildings, such as houses, baths, and in some cases mosques and schools, the extension and direction of the corridor passage has been changed.

 

In this way, the issues of mahram territory were solved by the corridor, which led indirectly to the courtyard. The corridor is physically narrow and not very wide. The width of the corridors is naturally determined in accordance with the function of the building, and the number of users. The average width of the corridors of mosques and large schools is between 2 and 3.5 meters, and the width of  corridors in small houses is about one meter on average (Mamani et al., 2017).

 

Semi-public spaces

Balcony

The balcony can be considered as a space filter, and a common part linking open and closed spaces-open or semi-public. In general, the balcony is used as a joining space in Iranian architecture.

 

Yard

Housing is important in Islamic architecture due to its direct connection with the private life and family life of the people. A Muslim's house should function as the guardian of the family, and should be built in accordance with the religion of Islam. In this regard, the main effect of Islam in the structure of a traditional house is introversion. Burckhardt (2009) described the courtyard as an aspect of Islam. He wrote in this case: Muslim houses receive light and air from their inner courtyards, not from the street.

 

Figure 7.  Masoudieh’s central yard (Source: Authors)

 

Mahram spaces

Types of rooms

The most varied and widely used part of the house is the interior. It is varied so that the residents of the house do not feel tired, and are not overcome by feelings of repetition. The rooms in a traditional house were arranged around the yard, and in relation to their importance and use. Summer rooms were usually located on the south side to be less exposed to the sun during summer days, while winter rooms were located in front of the summer rooms and exactly on the side that gets the most sun during the day. Other spaces such as storage rooms, kitchens and stables, were located in the second row and behind the rooms (Mamani et al., 2017).

 

Service space

A backyard was a type of yard that usually had a secondary and servicial function. It was designed and built at a part of the house so as to provide light and ventilation, or to be used as an open space for services. Its position and shape were very diverse. Usually, service areas, including the kitchen or bathroom, which should be built away from the privacy of the house, have access to these backyards. While providing services, it is responsible for sheltering from public view, and maintaining the mahram territories for the home's personal affairs.

 

CONCLUSION

According to Islamic-Iranian culture, a space can be considered a mahram territory if the physical aspect is related to a social concept, it is considered as a relationship between two people, and is different from personal spaces. The results show that despite the potential of these houses to create personal spaces and territories, they do not pay attention to these aspects. And the lack of complete personal spaces is very obvious in traditional Iranian houses.

 

Since ancient times, Iranians have shown a tendency towards introverted architecture, and this can be linked their perception of home and family. Family privacy has been the main function of traditional Iranian houses. We see values such as the Hijab (veil), cooperation, purity, contentment, God-centeredness, obedience, and humility as related to this. Therefore, the most private spaces are interactive ones such as mahram territories. This kind of territory is not a place in which one can be alone. Rather, it is an interactive place for two or more people who feel comfortable with each other semantically, and physically it creates security for them. In the past, privacy was defined for a set of people and the house spaces did not belong to a specific person. Even the room where they sleep could be the same space as the table for eating.

 

Every person wants to make a new and unique concept for his/her life with different facilities, tools, technologies and situations that they live in, and he/she should find these facilities in his/her home. Changing the values from social values to personal values, and becoming more free from natural and social limitations, the human subject poses a challenge to the meaning and power of individual subjectivity and agency. It seems that traditional Iranian traditional could offer the patterns and models for designing in the contemporary period when they are redefined in a combination of modern and traditional elements. By valuing personal territories in combination with the territories of mahram, while maintaining the peace and security of the inhabitants, they can also lead to personal growth. Having a home means gaining “privacy.” Privacy is a place where man can have peace and live and behave as he and his individuality demand. Privacy is a place where human dignity is respected. Home is the "cultural space" that separates us from others, and at the same time makes our life and coexistence with others possible.

 

The concepts of privacy and individuality are cultural concepts that differ from one culture to another. In societies where individualism is more developed and individualistic values prevail, personal territory, in both its spatial and social sense, is one of the key concepts of social life. In such cultures, the architecture of the house is such that each member of the household can have their own “privacy” inside the house. Therefore, the most important issue is not the area or form of the house, but the way the space is distributed and divided. Conversely, in societies and cultures where traditional Iranian values prevail, the concept of privacy is different, and the cultural function of the home is above all to preserve collective values. In Iranian culture, the home is a place to express traditional religious values and preserve the family. In Iranian culture, the concepts of home and family have a common root. But in this culture, there is no syntax between members living in the house. Hence, the children in each house do not have their own private room.

 

Traditional houses had a gender function. The house, like other social categories, was masculine because the basis of the house was the comfort and well-being of men, was under the management and authority of the father, and was for the protection of women. Women played the role of housewives in the traditional division of labor; however, everybody loves her and respects her much more than any other member of the family. One of the main functions of the house has been to protect women, a role that clothing and veils also play in a different way. From this point of view, it can be said that the gender function of the traditional house has been to create privacy for women and protect her by hiding her. And the house played the role of creating a distance (a veil) between women and the outsider, individual values and individuality is no concern, and it is in line with a set of values such as putting on the veil, purity, cooperation and humility.  

 

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Mojtaba Valibeigi, Sakine Maroofi, Sara Danay, and Yegane Mokhtari

 

Urban Planning Department, Imam Khomeni International University Buin Zahra Higher Education, Iran

 

*Corresponding author. E-mail: mojtaba.valibeigi@gmail.com/ m.valibeigi@bzeng.ikiu.ac.ir

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Abstract

ABSTRACT This study aims to carry out a critical reading of individual spaces of traditional Iranian houses. Through recourse to expert opinion, seven traditional houses in Iran have been chosen. A deductive content analysis is used to assess space syntaxes by way of three steps:  preparation, organization, and the final report.  In the preparation step, the individual and family territory in Iranian culture is defined. In the organization phase, territories are classified by reviewing plans, maps, and making visual observations. Finally, conclusions are reached on the situation of privacy and individuality in the houses. It is suggested that family privacy is the main function of traditional Iranian houses. Despite the fact that spaces could be used as personal and individual territories, in practice this is not so, and individualism and individual values have been forgotten. Individuality is not considered as valuable in the sense of one who needs his/her own territory; rather, this is determined in relation with other people.

 

Keywords: Mahram Territories, Personal Spaces, Space Syntax, Territoriality, Traditional Iranian House

1. Introduction

INTRODUCTION

Space is a hidden dimension of behavior, and it is through space that we establish relationships with each other (Hall et al., 1968). Researchers have considered several important cases by focusing on human spatial needs connected with the living environment, such as: space security, social relationships, readability, privacy, human dignity and identity (Aiello & Thompson, 1980; Shemesh et al., 2017). Most of these needs can only be acquired through the space syntax of the living environment. The space syntax of a residential place requires spatial, functional, and social hierarchies that cannot be detached from the concept of territory and territoriality (Koohsari et al., 2016; McCormack et al., 2019; Wu et al., 2015). Humans and animals exhibit territorial behavior in different ways. Animals behave territorially in relation to biological principles, which compel them to occupy certain spaces. However, for humans, these kind of actions depend on the norms and cultural criteria of society. Humans usually protect their territory through physical and chemical barriers, or some marked symbols (Guilfoil, 1991; Knoblauch, 2020; Lang, 1994). Every personalization, marking of the environment, or protection against a disturbance, is known as a kind of territorial behavior. The concept of territory isn’t only a spatial matter; rather, it also implies a social event. In fact, a territory can be known as the position and the place of a community in space (Bourdieu, 1996; Low, 2016). Territory has a basic role in human life, and it may help one to organize their environment and acquire personal or collective identities. According to Lang, territory has four characteristics (Lang, 2006, 2014):

  1. Personalization and the marking of place;
  2. Providing certain functions, from physiological to psychological needs;
  3. The right to defend against disturbances;
  4. Ownership, feelings, and human rights to a place.

 

Altman (2020) also provides a general distinction between, on the one hand, territory, and on the other, public territory. Altman claims that “territory must be designed in such a way that people can recognize whether it’s primary, secondary or public one” (p. 500). Firstly, primary territories are owned and used by just one person or a special group, but others will also know that these people are the owners of the territory. The second kind of territory has a less exclusive role. Secondary territories are available to the public, and are also controlled by some constant users. In fact, this concept refers to the half personal and half public space of Alexander, and the interactive space of Layman and Scott (Wells et al., 2016). Public territory is a temporary realm, and almost everyone is free to use these places. This territory is called a free area or public space. Chermayeff and Alexander presented a plan of communication, realm, and privacy, ranging from absolute personal space to that of public spaces (Lawrence, 1984; Rossi, 2017). These space syntaxes consist of the following: (a) personal syntax, which is related to everyone—such as for instance a personal bedroom; (b) familiar syntax, which is related to the primary group, for example, a kind of house; (c) personal syntax of a larger group, which is related to secondary groups, for example, management of an apartment by all of the residents; (d) public syntax of a larger group, including the intersection of this group with the public—such as some spaces where there is limited control; (e) half-public syntax of urban areas, which can control government or special institutions like: banks, post offices, airports, and town halls; and (f) public syntax of urban areas with public ownership and complete accessibility for all people, such as parks and streets.

 

Human territoriality is a set of attitudes and behaviors in and toward given physical areas, and the home is one of its expressions (Raffestin, 2012; Sebba & Churchman, 1983). As Porteous (1976) has pointed out, “at the core of the ethological concept of territoriality lies the place we call home. We personalize and defend this territory, and it, in turn, provides us with security, stimulation, and identity” (p. 84). The home is a basic reference point for the structuring of space and the focus of spatial activity (Narjinari, 2020). Home syntax seeks to explain how spatial configurations express social or cultural meanings. The aim of space syntax research is to develop strategies of description for configuring inhabited spaces in such a way that the underlying social meaning can be enunciated. This, in turn, can allow for the development of secondary theories or practical explanations regarding the effects of spatial configuration on various social or cultural variables. A related theme in space syntax research is to understand configured space itself, particularly its formative process and its social meaning (Dursun, 2012; Karimi, 2018). In brief, space syntax is an attempt to constitute a configurational theory of architecture by generating a theoretical understanding of how people make and use spatial configurations; in other words, it is an attempt to identify how spatial configurations express a social or cultural meaning, and moreover how they generate the interactions in built up environments (Griffiths, 2017; Refaat, 2019; van Nes & Yamu, 2021). One such meaning is mahram space (also known as intimate space or the space of intimacy), which was mainly introduced into Iranian architecture as a result of religious beliefs. In Iranian architecture, mahram space (the space of intimacy) is viewed from the perspective of privacy, and it is considered a kind of family space.

 

Iranian houses were the result of cultural domination, spiritual values and lifestyle. While a house is a resting place, a psychological space, and a shelter for the family and emotional needs of everyone, the concept of territory was so important for the architecture of these houses because they are not considered separate from the outside. Territorialities determined how to organize inside spaces of traditional houses from the outside and public syntax. Imagining a range of private syntaxes with public relations in a place that’s actually private is possible. However, this range in the architecture of Iranian houses focused more on the relation of households with others than the relations within households. In the past, personal values and freedom were neglected in Iran in various ways. Examples of this neglect are seen in Iranian architecture and urban planning, which reflect the culture of this society. We believe that one of the most important aspects of critical readings of traditional architecture derives from the position that human beings and human values occupy in it. And then, it is a question of combining individual values with traditions to create new architectural spaces, ones that have both valuable cultural elements from the past, and also ones that offer more value to human beings. Accordingly, the main purpose of the present study is to investigate private syntaxes in traditional Iranian houses. The study consists of the following parts: firstly, the methodology of the research will be outlined; secondly, the concepts of personal and family syntaxes will be defined, along with their features; next, different spaces of traditional Iranian houses will be identified and analyzed; finally, there will be a critical review of  private syntaxes.

 

The Spaces and Syntaxes of Intimacy

Canter (1997) believed that the meaning of place is derived from the tripartite relationship between activities, concepts, and physical features. Next, in order to develop his theory, he points to four factors which include: functional differences, the aims of a place, the interaction scale, and the design aspects. The functional differences are related to the current activities in a given place. The aims of a place and interaction scale are related to personal, social and cultural aspects, while the designing aspects are related to physical features (Cupers, 2017; Gustafson, 2001; Sebba & Churchman, 1983). Hence, for investigating the syntax in traditional Iranian houses, we should consider the tripartite of activities, concepts and physical context – i.e. which activities take place in the different spaces, and for what purpose.

 

The syntax of intimacy in Islamic sexual jurisprudence is related to the word “mahram.” A mahram is a member of a person's family who is allowed to enter the house and is trustworthy. Thus, mahram territory syntaxes bring intimacy, kinship, and closeness (Aryanti, 2013; Majid et al., 2015). The meaning of intimacy in urban and architectural space is linked to the creation of a place which entails privacy in two respects: the physical and the meaning. Having privacy in physical contexts is more about spatial security, while in conceptual contexts it gives worth and reverence to architectural space. In these ways, a person feels relaxed (Golshan, 2020; Memarian & Sadoughi, 2011). The house forms and its location are determined in accordance with religious beliefs. There are usually some admission rites associated with entering a house. For instance, strangers must have permission to enter. In architecture, intimacy is formed by separating inner space from the outside; it is this separation and acquisition of the space for the purposes of intimacy that makes the home calm and comfortable for a household. Passage, and permission to enter each space is afforded in relation to hierarchies. The houses that focus on intimacy and privacy have some distinct features: narrow passages and often dead ends, no terrace, no window to the outside, decorations inside the building, no façade in outer part of the building, along with high walls and fences for courtyard (Babaei et al., 2012; Habib et al., 2013; Hajian et al., 2020; Karimi & Hosseini, 2012).

 

Personal Syntax

Personal space is a special behavioral environmental concept. Sommer (1969) believed that personal space is a protective, small and invisible territory that makes a bubble between oneself and others (Sommer, 1969, 2002). Personal private space is dynamic and creative. A person may feel annoyed because of the infringement by others in this space. Personal specifications (Personality, emotions, gender, and age), along with physical environmental contexts like social norms and cultural rules, affect personal space (Hecht et al., 2019; Wells et al., 2016).

 

One of the new concepts that has been seen increasingly in environmental psychology studies is privacy. This concept implies that humans need to be alone. Privacy is a process that helps a person to adjust his or her relationships with others, approach introspection, and is found in houses more than anywhere else. Privacy is not equivalent to avoiding or preventing contact with others; rather, it can be grasped as the right to choose spatial and behavioral hierarchy. It is a layer of social and geographical distancing (Gifford, 2007; Steg et al., 2013). Westin (1968) explained privacy in terms of four elements: isolation (being free from the human gaze), proximity (close relationships and being free from the environment), anonymity (being unknown among people), tolerance (using psychological barriers for controlling unknown disturbances) (Roberts & Gregor, 2017).

 

Differences of Personal and Mahram Syntaxes in Islamic Culture

Personal syntax has a spatial character, along with  a physical and material dimension. It does not necessarily mean to be alone or stay away from others; solitude or individuality can be considered as boundaries through which a person can control and monitor interaction with others. However, the syntax of intimacy (mahram) indicates a human characteristic, and has a spiritual and non-physical dimension. By analyzing the contents of personal and mahram syntaxes, their comparison is presented in the following table.

 

Table 1. The comparison of the two concepts of personal space and mahram space

Personal Syntax

Mahram Syntax

It shows the relationship between a person and a special space.

It is considered a relationship between at least two people

One needs this syntax and tries to reach the level of desirability

Efforts are made to protect it from the influence of strangers

It is related to a place with personal criteria, where situations of needs and existence are defined.

It depends on culture and custom, and is defined independently in accordance with time and place.

It is a relative matter and depends on many diversities.

It is less relative, and religious customs and beliefs are its main variables.

It entails less stability

It entails more stability

It entails reverence

It entails intimacy, holiness and worthiness

It is a need of all people

Hierarchy and introversion constitute the main roles in its making.

It creates solitude and loneliness.

It creates kinship and closeness.

It depends on personal and environmental patterns.

It is affected by normal and customary patterns

It is closely related to other concepts like: solitude, calmness, and self-contemplation

It is closely related to: veil, privacy, zeal and chastity

Source: Authors

 

2. Material and Methods

METHODS

This research is carried out using a deductive content analysis method. In content analysis, content can be any kind of document that suggests relations between people. Thus, the paintings on the wall of caves, music, books, articles, handwritings, postcards, films, maps, direct and indirect observations, can all be included as content (Banks, 2018; Flick, 2018). Accordingly, content analysis can be used as one of the methods of qualitative inquiries that explicate and summarize data. Researchers use deductive content analysis methods when they want to study concepts, categories, theories, or any conceptual framework in a new context. In qualitative research, the data collection method aims to reach data saturation (Kyngäs & Kaakinen, 2020). As this research seeks to survey the territoriality and private syntaxes of the traditional Iranian house, deductive content analysis has therefore been used. Through this method, we can try to infer and reveal hidden forms in the documents, maps and observations. The qualitative content analysis method consists of 3 stages: preparation, organization, and conclusion (final report). In the preparation stage, a first attempt is made to provide a theoretical definition of personal and family syntaxes. Also, being based on an interpretive and documentary study, the differences between individual-personal and intimate-family syntaxes in the Iranian cultural system are classified. In the organizational stage, some of the  main documents and texts of traditional Iranian traditional architecture are studied, and then five unstructured interviews with some experts in the field are carried out to reach theoretical saturation. The most important question in the interviews was: “could you please mention some paragons of traditional Iranian houses?” Accordingly, a list of seven houses was made, including: Boroujerdi House, Bekhradi House in Isfahan, Zinat al-Muluk Qawam House, Ansari House in Oromie, Samadian House in Isfahan, Tadayon house in Semnan, and Behashti House in Qazvin (the plan of these houses and a diagram of their spatial relationships is provided and examined in the table which follows this passage). Afterwards, two of these houses were selected for a more detailed analysis. In the third stage, characterizations of traditional Iranian houses, space syntaxes, and personal and intimate territories, are assessed and a critical reading is carried out.

 

Table 2. Selected Traditional Iranian Houses based on expert opinions

 

Accordingly, the objective is to answer the following questions: Do joint features exist in all of these houses for signifying personal syntaxes and syntaxes of intimacy? What is the value, and the configuration of personal syntaxes and syntaxes of intimacy?

 

And in the last stage, a conclusion about privacy and individualism is presented. Which syntax had the greatest value? And which syntaxes and activities have been neglected?

 

3. Results

RESULTS

Generally speaking, there are five syntaxes in each home: family, individual, welcome, service, and courtyard syntaxes. These syntaxes have special hierarchies in traditional Iranian houses. The traditional architecture of Iranian houses separated houses into two parts: inside and outside. One of the features of traditional houses in most of the cities in Iran is their large area. The important parts of the house in the architecture of Iranian houses are: bench, entrance, vestibule, balcony, courtyard, hall, parlor, and inside (Memarian & Brown, 2006; Memarian & Sadoughi, 2011; Nabavi & Ahmad, 2016).

 

 

Figure 1. The plan of Samadian’s House in Hamadan (Source: Kabookarc.com)

 

In Figure 1 (The plan of Samadian’s house in Hamadan), which is an example of a plan of traditional Iranian architecture, we can understand the true meaning of the concept of mahram territories. As is obvious from the building plan, the structure of Samadian’s House comprises buildings on both sides, and the yard is situated between the buildings. The entrance leads to the yard, and Samadian’s House has three porches. Due to the privacy of the rooms, they do not have a direct entrance from the yard and a corridor is provided for each entrance. In general, the structure of traditional houses is supposed to maintain the residents’ private space.  However, from the past until now, the matter of personal spaces and individuality has been neglected by designers and residents. In the past, large families did not have enough space to dedicate an individual room to each person, and thus family members had to share rooms. For this reason, it was not easy for them to find a place in which to be alone.

 

Figure 2. Boroujerdi’s House in Kashan (Source: Nakhlesabz.ir)

 

In Figure 2 (Boroujerdi’s House), the importance of the issue of mahram territories in traditional Iranian architecture is obvious; the entrance path is separated, the corridor is closed from view—from outside to inside—, a porch has been created, and a frontage with platforms has been made for waiting guests in order to create privacy and mahram space in the central courtyard. Boroujerdi’s house has three entrances: the north entrance is the main one, the west entrance is for religious and other ceremonies, and the south entrance is for special occasions.  Only one opening leads to the courtyard, and a wall without any window or view from outside highlights the significance of this issue. In the architecture of Boroujerdi’s house, the space of the family members (red section) has been designed to be completely separate from the guest’s room (green section), with the courtyard being located in the center. Also, two types of percussion (Figure 3) have been used at the traditional Iranian entrance to differentiate the sound so that the landlord can understand if the guest is a man or a woman.

 

 

Figure 3. Two types of percussion at the traditional Iranian entrance (Source: Authors)

 

It should be noted that from ancient times, and in accordance with their perception of home and family, Iranians have shown a tendency for introverted architecture. This can be witnessed in how different spaces are formed, especially residential ones, in which different Iranian beliefs and issues have been effectuated. One of these is Iranian self-esteem, which has been effective in forming an introverted house. One of the principles that has had a profound effect in the formation of mahram territories in traditional Iranian buildings is the question of introversion. As a principle of Iranian architecture, introversion is a concept that has had any obvious presence due to the various ways in which it has  been realized and seen (Nari Qomi & Momtahen, 2020; Raviz et al., 2015). Introversion itself originated from territorial behavior. The societal factor that causes introversion in Iranian houses is the issue of protecting the inviolable privacy of the family away from the eyes of strangers. Being quiet, with a tendency to inner states, and an avoidance of pretension, are all examples of introversion in Iranian architecture. This appears in the form of winding passages, mud and soil walls, simplistic exteriors and  beautiful, detailed interior design (Razavizadeh, 2020; Safarian & Azar, 2020). Creating mahram spaces induces introversion. Therefore, the character of introversion in traditional Iranian houses, within which the family is afforded a special respect, has been completely compatible with the culture of society.

 

Pirnia (2005) in “Islamic architecture of Iran” has mentioned that “from 6000 years ago, some houses can be seen with introverted design. In the houses that were built later, their residents didn’t feel comfortable. The inside of the house was a place where a woman or a child lived. And it was being built in a way that housewives could work easily and no one could see her” (p.79). In larger houses, private and public spaces are separated deliberately by sections like the entrance, yard, porch, hallway, dooryard (Nejad & Abad, 2016).

 

Mahram Territories from Outside to Inside

The peak of improvement in the principle of introversion in Iran can be seen in the evolution of buildings with central courtyards. Buildings with courtyards in Iran stretch back about eight thousand years. And other buildings, such as especially houses, have taken about six thousand years to acquire a central courtyard (Soleymanpour et al., 2015; Soflaei et al., 2017). As Pirnia (2005) said, “in Iran, they build a garden and a pool in the middle of the house and the rooms and halls wrapped around it like a closed embrace” (p. 186). There was no window or hole in the house, or outside the wall. Thus, it could be seen from the outside, the exterior was designed with arches, gates and congresses.

 

Some features of Iranian introverted social architecture can be mentioned:

  1. Lack of direct visual connection between the interior spaces (private and semi-private) and outside spaces (public spaces),
  2. ­The spaces of the house are shaped with objects like courtyards and porches to which the openings lead on to

 

In Iranian Islamic architecture, not everyone is allowed to disturb the privacy of the family, and the order of entrances to Iranian homes is as follows:

  1. Most of the houses had entrances, and the side platforms in front of the entrances were flat, which provided a suitable space for those who wanted to see the owner but did not need to enter the house;
  2. The connection between the inside and the outside of the house was not as it is today for the visual privacy of the residents of the houses was completely secured and not every passer-by could enter the house. Even in houses with gardens, the yard or garden was large enough that it was impossible to see inside the house;
  3. In the urban setting, the alleys and paths had mazes that had the function of concealing and creating private spaces along the boundary between the private and the public.

 

Figure 4. Distinction between the exterior and interior space of a house in Birjand (Source: Authors)

 

Mahram Territories from Within

Introversion and the Iranian architect’s attraction to courtyards, gardens, porches, and the pergolas that surround the naves and create attractive and familiar environments, have long made them components of Iranian architecture. Privacy is one of the concepts and elements that was effective in the design organization of architecture and urban planning, and the architect has used special strategies to fulfil this need. Spatial order (step-by-step movement from alley or street to the entrance space of the house, and then private spaces) as well as internal and external system operation, are ways to provide good privacy.

 

In the Iranian house, there are three spaces: public, semi-public (semi-private) and private (mahram territories).

 

Public Spaces

Entrance

The entrance spaces themselves are part of the sequence of interconnected and related spaces of the whole house. To enter the building, the door and front of the house are both a barrier to entry and a place to greet semi-familiar guests. This space is used as a waiting area for newcomers, where the residents of the house make some .typical greetings.

 

Next to the entrance, there are platforms called Pakhoreh, in which passers-by sometimes stop for a while to relieve their fatigue in the shadows. Therefore, the location of the two platforms on either side of the entrance is an expression of the value of communicating with neighbors and paying attention to citizenship rights. Individual door knockers for both men and women are derived from the principle of secrecy. Muslim architects believe that the doors of houses in neighborhood units should not be opened facing or close to each other.  

 

Figure 5. Diagram of how to enter Tabatabai’s House (Source: Nakhlesabz.ir)

 

As shown in Figures 5 & 6, in the architecture of traditional houses such as Tabatabai’s House, there is no view from the outside of the house to the inside, and the direct visual connection between the interior spaces and the outside space is completely cut off.

 

Porch and corridor

The Porch or "karbas" is a space that has been designed and built in many types of entrance spaces. This space is often located right after the entrance space and one of its functions is to divide the entrance path into two or more parts. In some public buildings or houses, two or more paths lead into the porch, each of which leads to a specific space, including the interior of the building and the courtyard.

 

In buildings where there was only one way out of the porch, the porch space did not function as a dividing space; rather, it was used as a space for waiting, and as a glorious entrance. Porches have regular geometric shapes, are mostly low in height, and are suitable for the entrance space (Nabavi & Ahmad, 2016).

 

The dedicated dead-end or porch (semi-public space and semi-private space) has the following features (Figure 8):

  • As the doors of the houses open to a space like a platform, porch, or dead end, the feeling of ownership and security is created.
  • Residents can come together and make decisions by contacting and consulting with each other without any interference in their private space.
  • Ordered access avoids crowds and public commuting
  • Semi-private and semi-public spaces that belong to several families have led to increased visiting and familiarity among residents. As a result, residents have a greater awareness of taking care of the common areas.

 

Therefore, the porches have both an architectural function, and are also in harmony with the elegance of social life.

 

 

Figure 6. Toraab house’s Hashti and Masoudieh’s porch for private syntax entrance (Source: Authors)

 

Corridor

The corridor is the simplest part of the entrance space, and its most important function is to provide communication and access between two places. In some types of buildings, such as houses, baths, and in some cases mosques and schools, the extension and direction of the corridor passage has been changed.

 

In this way, the issues of mahram territory were solved by the corridor, which led indirectly to the courtyard. The corridor is physically narrow and not very wide. The width of the corridors is naturally determined in accordance with the function of the building, and the number of users. The average width of the corridors of mosques and large schools is between 2 and 3.5 meters, and the width of  corridors in small houses is about one meter on average (Mamani et al., 2017).

 

Semi-public spaces

Balcony

The balcony can be considered as a space filter, and a common part linking open and closed spaces-open or semi-public. In general, the balcony is used as a joining space in Iranian architecture.

 

Yard

Housing is important in Islamic architecture due to its direct connection with the private life and family life of the people. A Muslim's house should function as the guardian of the family, and should be built in accordance with the religion of Islam. In this regard, the main effect of Islam in the structure of a traditional house is introversion. Burckhardt (2009) described the courtyard as an aspect of Islam. He wrote in this case: Muslim houses receive light and air from their inner courtyards, not from the street.

 

Figure 7.  Masoudieh’s central yard (Source: Authors)

 

Mahram spaces

Types of rooms

The most varied and widely used part of the house is the interior. It is varied so that the residents of the house do not feel tired, and are not overcome by feelings of repetition. The rooms in a traditional house were arranged around the yard, and in relation to their importance and use. Summer rooms were usually located on the south side to be less exposed to the sun during summer days, while winter rooms were located in front of the summer rooms and exactly on the side that gets the most sun during the day. Other spaces such as storage rooms, kitchens and stables, were located in the second row and behind the rooms (Mamani et al., 2017).

 

Service space

A backyard was a type of yard that usually had a secondary and servicial function. It was designed and built at a part of the house so as to provide light and ventilation, or to be used as an open space for services. Its position and shape were very diverse. Usually, service areas, including the kitchen or bathroom, which should be built away from the privacy of the house, have access to these backyards. While providing services, it is responsible for sheltering from public view, and maintaining the mahram territories for the home's personal affairs.

 

5. Conclusion

CONCLUSION

According to Islamic-Iranian culture, a space can be considered a mahram territory if the physical aspect is related to a social concept, it is considered as a relationship between two people, and is different from personal spaces. The results show that despite the potential of these houses to create personal spaces and territories, they do not pay attention to these aspects. And the lack of complete personal spaces is very obvious in traditional Iranian houses.

 

Since ancient times, Iranians have shown a tendency towards introverted architecture, and this can be linked their perception of home and family. Family privacy has been the main function of traditional Iranian houses. We see values such as the Hijab (veil), cooperation, purity, contentment, God-centeredness, obedience, and humility as related to this. Therefore, the most private spaces are interactive ones such as mahram territories. This kind of territory is not a place in which one can be alone. Rather, it is an interactive place for two or more people who feel comfortable with each other semantically, and physically it creates security for them. In the past, privacy was defined for a set of people and the house spaces did not belong to a specific person. Even the room where they sleep could be the same space as the table for eating.

 

Every person wants to make a new and unique concept for his/her life with different facilities, tools, technologies and situations that they live in, and he/she should find these facilities in his/her home. Changing the values from social values to personal values, and becoming more free from natural and social limitations, the human subject poses a challenge to the meaning and power of individual subjectivity and agency. It seems that traditional Iranian traditional could offer the patterns and models for designing in the contemporary period when they are redefined in a combination of modern and traditional elements. By valuing personal territories in combination with the territories of mahram, while maintaining the peace and security of the inhabitants, they can also lead to personal growth. Having a home means gaining “privacy.” Privacy is a place where man can have peace and live and behave as he and his individuality demand. Privacy is a place where human dignity is respected. Home is the "cultural space" that separates us from others, and at the same time makes our life and coexistence with others possible.

 

The concepts of privacy and individuality are cultural concepts that differ from one culture to another. In societies where individualism is more developed and individualistic values prevail, personal territory, in both its spatial and social sense, is one of the key concepts of social life. In such cultures, the architecture of the house is such that each member of the household can have their own “privacy” inside the house. Therefore, the most important issue is not the area or form of the house, but the way the space is distributed and divided. Conversely, in societies and cultures where traditional Iranian values prevail, the concept of privacy is different, and the cultural function of the home is above all to preserve collective values. In Iranian culture, the home is a place to express traditional religious values and preserve the family. In Iranian culture, the concepts of home and family have a common root. But in this culture, there is no syntax between members living in the house. Hence, the children in each house do not have their own private room.

 

Traditional houses had a gender function. The house, like other social categories, was masculine because the basis of the house was the comfort and well-being of men, was under the management and authority of the father, and was for the protection of women. Women played the role of housewives in the traditional division of labor; however, everybody loves her and respects her much more than any other member of the family. One of the main functions of the house has been to protect women, a role that clothing and veils also play in a different way. From this point of view, it can be said that the gender function of the traditional house has been to create privacy for women and protect her by hiding her. And the house played the role of creating a distance (a veil) between women and the outsider, individual values and individuality is no concern, and it is in line with a set of values such as putting on the veil, purity, cooperation and humility.  

 

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